Orthodox Church Supreme Court Brief on Roe v. Wade

By: James George Jatras and Paul Farley. Orthodox Christians for Life. Co-author James George Jatras is a member of the AOI Board of Advisers.

The Amicus Curiae Submitted to the Supreme Court

No. 88-605

In The

Supreme Court of the United States

October Term, 1988

WILLIAM L. WEBSTER; STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellants,

v.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES; PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF GREATER KANSAS CITY;
HOWARD I. SCHWARTZ, M.D.; ROBERT L. BLAKE, M.D.; CARL C.
PEARMAN, M.D.; CARROLL METZGER, R.N.C.;
MARY L. PEMBERTON, B.S.W., Appellees.

On Appeal From The United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit

BRIEF AMICUS CURIAE OF THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH

+ + +

The Holy Orthodox Church respectfully submits this brief amicus curiae on behalf of itself and its members. [1]

INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE

The Holy Orthodox Church was founded by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and bears witness to that continuous and unbroken faith. [2] The precepts of the Orthodox Christian faith mandate the protection of innocent human life, especially that of unborn children. The Church regards abortion as murder, and as such, takes a very active role in opposing legalized abortion. That the issue of abortion has both a moral and a legal dimension to it, is indisputable. However, this cannot in any way be equated to an assertion that the two aspects are disparate, or unrelated. Rather, the two have historically been intertwined; it must be recognized that laws have traditionally been positive expressions of moral norms.

The Framers of the Constitution discerned a divine presence not only in daily living, but as reflected in the Constitution itself. "It is impossible for any man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolutionary." [3] That is, a law must of its very nature have a moral component to it, which cannot be divorced from the law itself.

Legal precepts, particularly those of constitutional proportions, simply cannot be judged in a vacuum. This notion not only predates the Constitution; [4] it is at the very heart of our civilization. The foundations of our morality can be found in the dawn and early morning light of the Judeo-Christian tradition, of which the Orthodox Church is a unique custodian. From its inception nearly two thousand years ago, it has never deviated from its condemnation of abortion, based on numerous scriptural references and the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church. The Church regards the Roe v. Wade decision as a gruesome turn on the road of judicial activism, having resulted in a holocaust which has claimed at least twenty million innocent lives. [5]

STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND STATEMENT OF FACTS

Amicus curiae adopts the statement of the case and the statement of the facts as set out in the Appellants’ Brief.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

In this case, the Holy Orthodox Church seeks to restore to our nation’s law the highest principle which a civilized society can espouse—the recognition that all human life is sacred. In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the Supreme Court relied heavily upon its presentation of historic Christianity’s teaching and practices. The assertions made in Roe were erroneous, and have no foundation in the church’s traditions. Rather than being ambivalent, or even condoning abortion, as suggested by the Roe Court’s opinion, historic Christianity has always condemned abortion as murder, without regard for any distinctions as to fetal development or viability.

The Roe Court also blurred the factual question of when life begins with the distinct legal question of what constitutional value attends to that life. The resulting confusion has tied the hands of legislators, and elevated abortion to the status of a near-absolute right. Unless this Court takes judicial notice, the factual question of when life begins is properly a subject for legislative findings. The strictly legal question of a life’s constitutional value is the clear issue before this Court, as the State of Missouri has made an appropriate factual determination.

Science and history both mandate a conclusion that human life and constitutional personhood are coextensive, and any other result is without foundation in American jurisprudence. Consequently, the Holy Orthodox Church urges this Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, and accord full constitutional protection to all human life beginning at conception.

ARGUMENT
I. THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE CASE IN WHICH TO RECONSIDER ROE v. WADE

In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and in subsequent cases, this Court has never reached the critical legal and public policy issue, that of when life begins. Id. at 159. However, for constitutional purposes, it is entirely appropriate for this Court to undertake to construe the term "life" as it appears in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. [6] In the absence of a judicial determination, such matters have traditionally been committed to the political processes. Unfortunately, the Court has nonetheless proceeded to preclude any legislative determination of the question. Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416, 444 (1983).

This has created the confusing and circular assertion that life and personhood are unrelated, but nonetheless it is impermissible for legislatures to make findings as to when life begins. Unlike any other factual question, the political processes are now forbidden from employing the fruits of scientific research. If elected officials are to be prohibited, as a matter of law, from making necessary and proper factual findings, then this Court must determine for purposes of the Constitution, whether or not life is present in an unborn fetus. The State of Missouri has undertaken to make such a determination, and to address the merits of this case, this Court must make a ruling upon the validity of that assertion. Even though the question of when life begins may be difficult, [7] that does not remove the necessity of a just and proper judicial disposition of this case.

The Court has elevated abortion above all other constitutional rights; in practice, it may not be restricted, even if a life is indeed present. Unlike other constitutional rights, abortion need not be balanced against competing governmental interests. The implication is that the right to an abortion is more central to the tradition of individual liberty in America than the cherished rights of free speech and religion.

The Missouri statute at issue here presents an important opportunity for this Court to resolve the ambiguities created by previous decisions, and clarify the precise relationship between human life and constitutional personhood. The Court need not make a ruling on the factual question of when life begins; indeed, this is properly left to legislatures and trial courts. However, it is imperative that there be a clear statement of the constitutional value of human life, whatever point science indicates it begins. If personhood does not attach until birth, then it is crucial to have guidance as to the legal status of pre-natal human life. The instant case frames the issue as clearly as is possible.

II. ROE v. WADE WAS WRONGLY DECIDED AND OUGHT TO BE OVERRULED

Amicus does not suggest to this Court that the theology or canons of the Orthodox Church, or of any other religious body, should form the basis of American constitutional law. However, in its lengthy historical exegesis, the Roe Court sought to show that abortion was philosophically and morally grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. To the extent such a perception is the foundation of Roe, the Orthodox Church bears an undivided witness to the fact that it is a perception which is utterly inconsistent with the experience of historic Christianity.

In the early centuries of the Church, its moral traditions and teachings were universally embraced, holding sway over almost the whole of Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa, from Hadrian’s Wall to the frontiers of the Persian Empire. Though this unanimity was later lost, the divergent moral strands of western thought, including Anglo-American jurisprudence, ultimately trace their lineage to this rich heritage.

A. The Court’s Finding in Roe v. Wade, That Abortion is Consistent With Historic Moral Practices, is Erroneous

The Roe Court relied heavily upon the contention that "Christian theology and canon law came to fix the point of animation at 40 days for a male and 80 days for a female, a view that persisted until the 19th century," and that "there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation." 410 U.S. at 134. The Court apparently found that Aristotle’s three stage theory of life formed the basis of Christianity’s beliefs, and "came to be accepted by early Christian thinkers." Id. at 133, n.22. The implicit conclusion is that the ancient Christian Church did not consider abortion in early pregnancy to be the taking of a human life. With all due respect to this Honorable Court, such was simply not the case.

Early Christian thought was not in any sense comparable or equivalent to prior Jewish or Greco-Roman traditions. The Church’s teaching represented a significant departure from Aristotelian thought, and from the beginning regarded abortion as abhorrent and an abomination before God. The biologically erroneous Aristotelian view was rarely alluded to, and even in such cases where mention was made of the attempted distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses, it was for the purposes of reiterating its moral irrelevance. To the extent that some western Christian writers espoused certain elements of Aristotelian philosophy, they must be regarded as rather exceptional scholastic forays, whose basic premises and ultimate results have now been conclusively demonstrated to be false. The Christian Church, from its inception, expressed a distinct and fundamental horror of abortion, at whatever stage of pregnancy, and considered it to be the killing of a human being.

1. Early Christian Writings, and the Fathers of the Church, All Condemned Abortion as Murder

Among the most highly regarded of ancient Christian writings is the Didache, which dates from the late first century. [8] Its teaching is unambiguous: "Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant." Id. at II, 2. This is echoed in another didactic writing universally esteemed in the ancient Church, the Epistle of Barnabas, from the early second century: "Never do away with an unborn child or destroy it after its birth." Id. at XIX, 5.

The writings of the Fathers of the Church and other authorities further attest to the unanimity with which abortion was condemned. Among the earliest was the philosopher and apologist Athenagoras of Athens, who wrote to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (c.177) to defend Christians against false charges of murder: "What reason would we have to commit murder when we say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God?" [9] St. Basil the Great (c.330-379) was unequivocable: "A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder." [10] St. John Chrysostom (c.345-407) who in his famous homilies railed against men who secured the abortions of their illegitimate offspring, called their actions "even worse than murder." Of such men who impelled women to have abortions, he said, "You do not let a prostitute remain a prostitute, but make her a murderer as well." [11]

Finally, Canon 91 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council (691 A.D.), decreed that people "who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take fetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers." The same canonical position along with the opinions of individual Church Fathers, were compiled in the Photian Collection, which was adopted as the official ecclesiastical law book of the Orthodox Church in 883 A.D.

2. The Early Church Recognized That Life Begins at Conception, and Rejected Distinctions Based Upon Fetal Development or Viability

The Roe Court observed that there was "little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation.

There was agreement, however, that prior to this point the fetus was to be regarded as part of the mother, and its destruction, therefore, was not homicide." 410 U.S. at 134. This assertion has no basis in the practices or theology of historic Christianity.

Among the earliest testimonies that fetal development was irrelevant is that of St. Basil the Great, who wrote that "any hairsplitting distinction as to its being formed or unformed is inadmissible with us." [12] He also condemned suppliers of abortifacients, regardless of the stage of pregnancy: "’Those who give potions for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers, as are those who take potions which kill the child." [13]

St. Basil’s brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-394), saw the fetus as a complete human being from the time of conception, and specifically rejected theories based upon formation or quickening: "There is no question about that which is bred in the uterus, both growing, and moving from place to place. It remains, therefore, that we must think that the point of commencement of existence is one and the same for body and soul." [14] Even Tertullian of Carthage (c.160-c.230), a prominent Latin ecclesiastical writer who seemed to accept the formed/unformed distinction as a biological matter, dismissed its moral importance: "Abortion is a precipitation of murder, nor does it matter whether or not one takes a life when formed, or drives it away when forming, for he is also a man who is about to be one." [15]

Though less specific, Holy Scripture also recognizes that an unborn child’s life is sacred, and begins no later than conception: "’Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5, 6. [16] Also noteworthy is St. Luke’s use of the same Greek word, brephos (baby), for both the unborn St. John the Baptist (Luke 1:44) and the newly-born Christ child (Luke 2:12). Even more indicative are those examples, in both Old and New Testaments, where God enters into a direct personal relationship with a specific individual before birth, by "consecrating," "appointing," "calling," and //setting apart" the unborn child through His grace. [17] This testifies to the Bible’s view that the fetus is not only a human being but a person. That this understanding of an unborn person’s receptivity to divine grace extends back to conception is further evidenced by the ancient practice, as formalized in the Church calendar, of celebrating not only the conception of Christ (Annunciation, March 25), but that of His mother (December 9), and St. John the Baptist (September 23).

The canon law of the ancient Church, still in effect in the Orthodox Church today, is entirely consistent with the foregoing exposition of theological, patristic, and scriptural evidence. The first canonical pronouncement specifically on abortion was that of the regional Council of Elvira, Spain (c.303 A.D.), imposing life-long excommunication. In 314-315 A.D., the regional Council of Ancyra adopted Canon 21:

Regarding women who become prostitutes and kill their babies, and who make it their business to concoct abortives, the former rule barred them for life from communion, and they are left without recourse. But, having found a more philanthropic alternative, we have fixed the penalty at ten years, in accordance with the fixed degrees.

The reference to prostitutes attests to the Fathers’ recognition that abortion was only resorted to by women in the most desperate social circumstances. Three centuries into the Christian era, abortion was unthinkable to the broad mass of Christian people; canon law was adopted which lightened the penalty imposed upon those most in need of mercy. More importantly, the "former rule," imposing life-long excommunication, is Apostolic Canon 66, which pertains to homicide. [18] The fact that for centuries the Church treated abortion at any stage of pregnancy as homicide, without regard to fetal development, is indicative of the illusory nature of the formed/ unformed distinction.

In addition, the Roe Court’s reliance upon the writings of Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), as indicative of early Christian thought was misplaced. [19] While concepts such as "ensoulment" or "quickening" gained some currency in certain ecclesiastical circles beginning in the fifth century, this serves only to underscore the danger inherent in drawing broad-based conclusions based upon excerpts of writings from selected theologians. Augustine never laid claim to being infallible, nor did he presume to speak for the entire Church. [20] In fact, in the conclusion of his final treatise, he offered his opinions humbly to the judgment of the Church: "Let those who think that I am in error consider again and again carefully what is here said, lest perchance they themselves may be mistaken. And when, by means of those who read my writings, I become not only wiser, but even more perfect, I acknowledge God’s favor to me." [21]

However, there is no doubt that despite their misunderstanding of fetal development, they sought to protect the fetus and considered its destruction homicide. We can, with the benefit of historical and scientific hindsight, attribute the misapplication of a correct impulse to a biological error stemming ultimately from Aristotle. The Roe Court adopted this error as the basis of its analysis of the moral acceptability of abortion over the past two thousand years; but as would be the case with a hypothetical body of jurisprudence based on the Ptolemaic geocentric system or the phlogiston theory of combustion, this Court should not hesitate to look beyond what we now understand to be a factual error, albeit a persistent one.

Historic Christianity recognized conception as the time at which life and soul were united, and regarded abortion at any stage of pregnancy as homicide. Though the Orthodox Church, for historical reasons relating to its organizational and doctrinal continuity with historic Christianity, is more acutely aware of this fact, this should not be taken as sectarian pleading. Rather, it is a unique witness to an older and sounder tradition that is our common heritage. The fact that the theological writings of Christian antiquity were formulated by men with little understanding of biology, but whose views are entirely compatible with our modern understanding, is further testament to their moral perspicacity.

B. Human Life Begins at Conception

The incorrectness of the Roe Court’s assertion that there has been a historic lack of consensus on abortion has been demonstrated in section II A, supra. Even so, it is not the judiciary’s proper role to evaluate consensus. The Federalist No. 78 (A. Hamilton.) The legal and social morass resulting from the Roe decision is in large part a product of the confusion over what was actually decided. The Roe Court blurred the strictly factual question of when life begins with the quite distinct legal determination of what constitutional value attends to that life.

Modern science has borne out the prescient wisdom of the Holy Fathers of the Church, that life begins at conception, and at no other arbitrary or scholastically derived juncture. [22] However, this Court need not make a scientific determination of when life begins, any more than it was necessary in Roe to determine when a fetus is "viable;" this is a matter which is properly committed to the political processes. The Missouri legislature has undertaken to make findings of fact, as is appropriate in matters of social and economic regulation. It is improper for the judiciary to enjoin the political processes from determining the factual basis for proposed legislation. Traditionally, the federal courts give the greatest possible deference to legislative determinations with respect to such questions. [23]

This Court need only interpret the term "person," and thereby determine the constitutional value of unborn human life. Unless this Court should foreclose the option by taking judicial notice, or adopting a constitutional definition of "life" embracing a manifest legal fiction, the State of Missouri is entitled to make a judgment as to when life begins. The judiciary’s role is to determine the constitutional value of that life.

C. A Human Life is a "Person" for Purposes of the Constitution

To the extent that a construction of the term "person," as used in the Constitution, was made in Roe, it was done on the basis of the facts as presented and understood by the Court as that time. Amicus respectfully submits that the factual underpinnings of Roe v. Wade were erroneous, or at best incomplete. Reliance upon Aristotle and other selected writers from antiquity do not validate the Roe Court’s conclusion that the morality of abortion has traditionally been ambivalent. As shown supra, some theorists have had erroneous views of the factual question of when life begins, but there has been no divergence as to the legal and moral value of that life once it has been established.

In Roe the Court went to some lengths to demonstrate that most references to "persons" in the Constitution had solely a postnatal connotation. However, this begs the question as to what "person" means in the Fourteenth Amendment. It must also be observed that most constitutional references to persons only dealt with adults, and in the original intent of the document, only white males. However, again, this still does not speak to the Fourteenth Amendment, which obviously was intended to vindicate the rights of black children as well as adults, and has subsequently been applied to protect the rights of women as well as men. There is no basis in history, jurisprudence, or simple logic to justify specially exempting the unborn from the scope of the Amendment.

Furthermore, the appropriate constitutional definition of "person" has already been made by this Court. Justice Douglas, writing for the Court, found that illegitimate children are "persons," on the grounds that:

They are humans, live, and have their being. They are clearly "persons" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. Levy v. Louisiana, 361 U.S. 68, 70 (1968).

Unborn children clearly are human, do live, and have their being, in accordance with Justice Douglas’ perceptive holding. An unborn child has as little control over its status as an illegitimate child, and is far more vulnerable. They are "persons" under the Constitution, and there is no rational basis whatsoever for creating an arbitrary or scholastic distinction so as to exclude them.

Another critical distinction which the Roe Court ignored was the Fourteenth Amendment’s differentiation of citizenship and personhood:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [24]

As understood by the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment, citizenship relates to political rights, while personhood deals with the more basic rights inherent in all human beings. See, e.g., Bishop, The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, 79 Nw. U. L. Rev. 142, 151-153 (1984). The latter is a much broader classification than the former, encompassing both citizens and non-citizens; all citizens are persons, but the reverse is not true. Even a decision as monstrous as Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), conceded that slaves were persons under the Constitution, but denied them the privileges of citizenship.

Therefore, the many references to "persons" cited by the Roe Court in support of its finding of purely postnatal application were, contextually, referring to persons who were also citizens. [25] The references to "persons" relied upon by the Roe Court were made in political contexts, such as eligibility to vote or to hold political office, which of course would preclude all persons under a certain age, whether born or not. Such strict textual interpretation, done without regard for historical meaning and context, is devoid of constitutional justification.

In addition, this Court had already, some eighty-seven years prior to Roe, recognized corporations as "persons" under the Fourteenth Amendment. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., 118 U.S. 394, 396 (1886). That corporations are not male, female, black, white, pre-natal, nor post-natal, is transparently obvious. There is also no conflict between the recognition of personhood, but simultaneous denial of citizenship, as corporations cannot vote nor hold political office. Thus, while Santa Clara is entirely consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment, Roe is not. The distinctions made in Roe and its progeny are artificial and have no basis in the adjudication of constitutional claims. This is made readily apparent through attempting to reconcile Santa Clara and Roe. Reading them together creates a result which is "hauntingly Orwellian—something can be a person without being human, and can be human without being a person. [26] No civilized society can possibly endorse such a conclusion.

The instant case clearly frames the contradictions and ambiguities precipitated by the Roe decision, and Amicus urges this Court to resolve them by reaffirming the moral, social, and legal recognition of the value of unborn human life.

CONCLUSION

The historic morality which forms the foundation of American constitutional thought is firmly grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. That tradition has unambiguously recognized that life begins at conception, and that abortion is murder. The notion that abortion on demand is an inherent right which cannot be denied, is of recent origin. Samuel Adams recognized that such innovations should be resisted: "If the liberties of America are ever completely ruined,… it will in all probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence, which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive tendency for the sake of present ease." [27]

The "present ease" of abortion on demand does not, and cannot, alter the historical and moral truth that "universal life would proceed according to nature if we would practice continence from the beginning instead of destroying, through immoral and pernicious acts, human beings who are given birth by Divine Providence." [28] The assembled jurisdictions of the Holy Orthodox Church in the United States speak with one voice in urging this Court to recognize the sanctity of human life, and reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Dated this 21st day of February, 1989.

Respectfully submitted,

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS*
PAUL FARLEY
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS FOR LIFE
Post Office Box 805
Melville, New York 11747
(631) 271-4408

Endnotes

*Counsel of Record. Orthodox Christians for Life is a National with 700 members in the US, Canada, and several other countries. We were organized in 1986 and are still active and coordinate the annual Orthodox presence at the March for Life in Washington DC on or about Jan. 22.

1. Counsel for Amicus has obtained the oral consent of both parties to this case. Written consent shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court immediately upon its receipt.

2. The Holy Orthodox Church includes all major Orthodox Christian groups in the United States: Albanian, American, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Russian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian. Regardless of the jurisdiction, all Orthodox Christians share a unity of faith and tradition extending back almost two thousand years to the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.

3. The Federalist, No. 37 (J. Madison). George Washington echoed this sentiment it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervant supplications to that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the council of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect…. In tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own…. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States." Washington, First Inaugural Address, quoted in, Eliot, American Historical Documents, 1000-1904, at 226 (New York: P.F. Collier & Son Corp., 1938).

4. See, e.g., John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, ch. IV, secs. 22 and 23 (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1952).

5. This brief is filed with the blessings of: The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese: His Grace, Bishop Nicholas; V. Rev. Frank P. Miloro, Dean of Christ the Savior Orthodox Theological Seminary; The Anthiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America: His Eminence, Most Rev. Metropolitan Philip; Rt. Rev. Antun, Auxiliary Bishop; V. Rev. Peter E. Gillquist, Chairman of the Council of Coordinators, Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission, and member, Worship and Evangelization Committee, National Council of Churches; V. Rev. Jack N. Sparks, Dean of St. Athanasius College; The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America: Rt. Rev. Maximos, Bishop of Pittsburgh; Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas, Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology and Christian Ethics, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; Rev. Dr. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Professor of New Testament and Orthodox Spirituality, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches; Rev. Fr. George A. Alexson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Washington Orthodox Clergy Council, and Pastor, St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church of Northern Virginia; The Orthodox Church in America: His Beatitude Theodosius, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada; Rt. Rev. Peter, Bishop of New York and New Jersey; Rt. Rev. Dimitri, Bishop of Dallas and the South; Rt. Rev. Herman, Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; Rt. Rev. Gregory, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska; Rt. Rev. Nathaniel, Bishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; Rt. Rev. Job, Bishop of Hartford and New England; Rt. Rev. Tikhon, Bishop of San Francisco; Rt. Rev. Mark, Acting Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest; V. Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Secretary of External and Ecumenical Affairs, and President-Elect of the National Council of Churches; V. Rev. John Meyendorff, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and Professor of Church History and Patristics; V. Rev. Daniel K. Donlick, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; V. Rev. Joseph P. Kreta, Dean of St. Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; V. Rev. Thomas Hopko, Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and member, Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches; V. Rev. John Kowalczyk, Adjunct Professor of Religious Education and the Christian Family, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and Pro-Life Coordinator of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania; V. Rev. Vladimir Borichevsky, Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; Rev. Fr. Alexander F.C. Webster, Senior Research Associate, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. (for identification only); Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Monastery, Elwood City, Pennsylvania; Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery, Rives Eaton, Michigan; The Russian Orthodox Church in Exile: His Eminence, Most Rev. Vitaly, Metropolitan of New York and Eastern America, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile; Most Rev. Anthony, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Southern California; Most Rev. Antony, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America; Most Rev. Laurus, Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery, Rector of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, and Abbot of Holy Trinity Orthodox Monastery, Jordanville, New York; Rt. Rev. Alypy, Bishop of Chicago, Detroit, and Midwest America; Rt. Rev. Hilarion, Bishop of Manhattan; Rt. Rev. Daniel, Bishop of Erie and Protector of the Old Rite; Rev. Fr. Alexey Young, Editor of ‘Orthodox America’; Rev. Fr. Gregory Williams, Editor of ‘Living Orthodoxy’; The Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada: His Grace, Bishop Christopher; The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America and Canada: His Grace, Bishop Vsevolod.

In addition, this brief is endorsed by: Orthodox Christians for Life—John Protopapas, Co-Founder and Chairman; Rev. Fr. Edward Pehanich, Co-Founder and Spiritual Advisor, and Diocesean Representative for the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese; Valerie Protopapas, Educational Director, and Sanctity of Life Director for the Diocese of New York and New Jersey (OCA); and V. Rev. Gordon T. Walker, liaison to the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission. This brief is also endorsed by: Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, Professor of Canon Law, and Dr. John Chirban, Professor of Psychology and Counseling, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; Dr. John Erickson, Professor of Canon law and Church History, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion; the Orthodox Brotherhood of the United States; the National Association of Romanian Orthodox Women in America; and American Romanian Orthodox Youth.

6. "No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law… ." U.S. Const. amend. V. "No State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . . ." U.S. Const. amend. XIV, sec. 1.

7. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 159 (1973).

8. Also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, it is a codification of the oral tradition handed down by the Apostles to their successors. Cf. II Thessalonians 2:15. It was called "scripture" by Clement of Alexandria (+c.215), and was recommended for catechists by St. Athanasius (c.297-373).

9. Athenagoras, Legation for Christians, 6 Patrologia Graeca 969 (Paris: J.P. Migne ed., 1844-1865).

10. St. Basil the Great, Letters CLXXXVIII, Canon 2.

11. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies in Romans, XXIV. See also the authoritative treatise by Fr. John Kowalczyk, An Orthodox View of Abortion, (Minneapolis: Light & Life Publishing Co., 2d ed. 1979).

12. St. Basil the Great, supra note 10.

13. Id., Canon 8 (emphasis supplied.)

14. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection.

15. Tertullian of Carthage, Apology IX.

16. See also, Job 10:8, 9, 11; Psalms 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Luke 1:41-44.

17. See, e.g., Psalms 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 49:1, 5; Jeremiah 1:5; and Galatians 1:15-16.

18. Apostolic Canon 66 permitted penitents to return to communion only on their deathbeds. As the name suggests, an Apostolic Canon is a teaching received directly from the Twelve Apostles.

19. 410 U.S. at 133 n.22.

20. "If some have spoken imprecisely, or for some reason unknown to us, even deviated from the right path, but no question was put to them nor did anyone challenge them to learn the truth—we admit them to the list of Fathers, just as if they had not said it, because of their righteousness of life and distinguished virtue and their faith, faultless in other respects. We do not, however, follow their teaching in which they stray from the path of truth." St. Photius, Letter to the Patriarch of Aquileia, quoted in, Haugh, Photius and the Carolingians, 136-137 (Belmont, Mass: Nordland, 1975); and Archbishop Philaret of Chernigov, 3 Historical Teaching of the Fathers of the Church, 254-255 (St. Petersburg, 1882).

21. Augustine of Hippo, On the Gift of Perseverance, ch. 68. See also, Fr. Seraphim Rose, The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1983).

22. See, Subcommittee on the Separation of Powers, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, The Human Life Bill, S. 158, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. 7-13 (1981).

23. United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 152-153 n.4 (1938).

24. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, sec. 1 (emphasis supplied).

25. 410 U.S. at 157.

26. East and Valentine, Reconciling Roe v. Wade, in Horan, Grant, and Cunningham, Abortion and the Constitution, at 90 (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1987).

27. 2 The Writings of Samuel Adams, 287-288 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, H.A. Cushing ed., 1904) (emphasis in original).

28. Clement of Alexandria, II Paedagogus, ch. X, 96, I.

Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council – Relevant Or Irrelevant Today?

By: Met. Philip Saliba

Met. Philip Saliba

Met. Philip Saliba

Talk given by Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese at the Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius held at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, June 4-8, 2008.

Of all the canons dealing with Church authority and jurisdiction, there is probably none more controversial and debated in inter-Orthodox circles today than Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in the city of Chalcedon in the year 451. Those of us familiar with Church history know that the Ecumenical Council was called to put an end to the ongoing Christological debates of the time. While this was the main focus of the Council, like other councils before and after, it dealt with other pressing issues of the day. Canon was no exception. It reads as follows:

Following in every detail all the decrees of the holy Fathers and knowing about the canon, just read, of the one hundred and fifty bishops dearly beloved of God, gathered together under Theodosius the Great, emperor of pious memory in the imperial city of Constantinople, New Rome, we ourselves have also decreed and voted the same things about the prerogatives of the very holy Church of this same Constantinople, New Rome. The Fathers in fact have correctly attributed the prerogatives (which belong) to the see of the most ancient Rome because it was the imperial city. And thus moved by the same reasoning, the one hundred and fifty bishops beloved of God have accorded equal prerogatives to the very holy see of New Rome, justly considering that the city that is honored by the imperial power and the senate and enjoying (within the civil order) the prerogatives equal to those of Rome, the most ancient imperial city, ought to be as elevated as Old Rome in the affairs of the Church, being in the second place after it. Consequently, the metropolitans and they alone of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, as well as the bishops among the barbarians of the aforementioned dioceses, are to be ordained by the previously mentioned very holy see of the very holy Church of Constantinople; that is, each metropolitan of the above-mentioned dioceses is to ordain the bishops of the province along with the fellow bishops of that province as has been provided for in the divine canons. As for the metropolitans of the previously mentioned dioceses, they are to be ordained, as has already been said, by the archbishop of Constantinople, after harmonious elections have taken place according to custom and after the archbishop has been notified.

Proper Interpretation of Canon 28

The issue of the proper interpretation of Canon 28 and its relationship to the so-called "disapora" is crucial, not only to the Church in North America, but to the relationship of all Orthodox churches worldwide to each other, and to their witness to the world. As Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has said: "The question of the Orthodox diaspora is one of the most important problems in inter-Orthodox relations. Given its complexity and the fact that it has not been suffi ciently regularized, it has introduced serious complications in[to] the relations between Churches and, without a doubt, has diminished the strength of Orthodox witness throughout the contemporary world." (For more information on the historical background of Canon 28, I recommend the book The Church of the Ancient Councils: The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils, by the late Archbishop PETER L’Huillier, published in 1996 by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.)

The issue of the proper interpretation of Canon 28 and its relationship to the so-called "disapora" is crucial, not only to the Church in North America, but to the relationship of all Orthodox churches worldwide to each other, and to their witness to the world.

It is my opinion that there are three types of canons: 1) Dogmatic; 2) Contextual; and 3) "Dead" canons. Canon 28 is by no means a "dead" canon, since there is still great controversy over it today, and so many commentaries, both past and present, show how controversial it has been, to say the least. I believe that Canon 28, historically, is a contextual canon and not a dogmatic one; it gave the city of Constantinople certain rights as the New Rome for secular, political reasons because it was the seat of the emperor. At the same time, the Fourth Ecumenical Council considered (Old) Rome to be the first among equals. What does this say to us today? Let us begin by stating that the whole idea today of "Rome," "New Rome," and "Third Rome" would be absurd. If we want to give prominence to any city in Christendom, we should give it to Jerusalem, where the history of salvation was accomplished.

The second part of the Canon dealt with the Dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace. Canon 28 gave Constantinople jurisdiction over the metropolitans of the barbarians and those three provinces or dioceses, which today are only Bulgaria, Northeastern Greece and European Turkey.

We can also ask, Is this Canon dealing with a dogmatic issue or a pastoral administrative one? In my opinion it clearly deals with an administrative question. If Antioch or Alexandria had become the seat of imperial power, likely this Canon would have made either of them New Rome. If we were to follow the reasoning of Canon 28, in fact, then Russia could rightfully claim, as it did historically, to be the Third Rome, and the Church of Greece could have made the claim to be the Fourth Rome during the captivity of the Russian Church under Communism.

Given the lack of a new Great Council, common sense would dictate that, with the current captivity of the church in Constantinople (whose indigenous flock totals just a few thousand), there is no reason for Canon 28 and it is no longer relevant today. We do have a problem, however: we have a responsibility to the past and the councils of the past, but there is no Great Council to address this issue. We must therefore explore other solutions.

The Relevance of Canon 28 Today — Constantinople’s Long Arm

While the Canon is not relevant to the question of different "Romes," it is profitable for us to look at its relevance today, especially to the subject of administrative organization in North America. We are well aware of the complex issues regarding the so-called "diaspora" and the desire of our Orthodox people, especially in North America, to have an administratively united church. As you must know, there are basically two interpretations of this Canon that extend back into history. Some claim that this Canon implies that Constantinople has authority over all territories outside the geographical limits of autocephalous churches.

Those on the other side of the argument say that this interpretation is, in fact, misinterpretation. Archbishop PETER in his book, The Church of the Ancient Councils, states that "such interpretation is completely fantastic." For those holding this view, any autocephalous church can do missionary work outside her boundaries and can grant autocephaly to such missions. Archbishop PAUL of Finland, in summarizing the position of the Orthodox churches, has stated in the reports submitted in 1990 to the Preparatory Commission for the Great and Holy Council that "the Patriarchates of Antioch, Moscow and Romania strongly oppose the authority of Constantinople over the diaspora and [maintain] that the theory remains an anachronism as far from the modern age as the year 451 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council is from the Twentieth Century."

Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has stated that "…until the 1920′s the Patriarch of Constantinople did not in fact exercise authority over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora throughout the world, and made no claim to such authority."

Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has stated that it was only in 1921 that Patriarach MELETIOS Metsakis developed a theory of universal jurisdiction for Constantinople. "Historical facts indicate that until the 1920′s the Patriarch of Constantinople did not in fact exercise authority over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora throughout the world, and made no claim to such authority." The Russian Orthodox Church responded in a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the case of Bishop BASIL (Osborne) as follows: "With respect to Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, it is vital to recall that it concerns only certain provinces, the boundaries of which represent the limits of the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the bishops ‘of the barbarians.’"

We see, then, that the notion that this Canon extends the authority of the throne of Constantinople to all territories that are not part of one or another local church is a novelty, and one not recognized by the Orthodox Church as a whole. This misinterpretation of Canon 28 would extend beyond territorial issues to such things as the claim that a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople should chair any Episcopal assembly, anywhere in the world. This claim can extend down to local clergy groups, Pan-Orthodox associations and organizations, and so forth.

Weaknesses in SCOBA

In 1961, we in the United States and Canada formed the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops (SCOBA) in the Americas (SCOBA). I have been a member of SCOBA since 1966. The misinterpretation of Canon 28 has not been helpful to the work of SCOBA. In my opinion, SCOBA has four major defects. First, the representation of the Orthodox Churches in SCOBA does not reflect reality in North America. Neither the Moscow Patriarchate nor the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) are represented in SCOBA, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate has four of the nine seats.

Second, the insistence that the Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople must be the President of SCOBA is not what was agreed upon at the beginning. The constitution of SCOBA which has never been amended, provides that there shall be a rotating presidency. Subsequently, at the insistence of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Archbishop SPYRIDON and then Archbishop DEMETRIUS were elected by the SCOBA members after the retirement of the later Archbishop IAKOVOS of thrice-blessed memory.

The third defect of SCOBA is that its decisions are not internally binding. In the 1990 documents before the Preparatory Commission for a Great and Holy Council, in discussing the Western European situation, some autocephalous churches suggested the formation of Episcopal Assemblies whose decisions can be internally binding.

I would like to quote here again from the letter from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Preparatory Commission. "The relations between jurisdictions and dioceses to the Mother Churches would remain the same, but in all purely internal matters, which would include education, teaching, the diakonia, Orthodox witness, ecumenical relations on the local level, pastoral practice, the Bishops’ Assembly would serve in joint effort as one whole unit and autonomous in its relationship to the mother church." This Bishops’ Assembly, for example, would address non-canonical situations in North America such as the infringement of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in North America with the blessings of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Most of the people in my Archdiocese have no intention of returning to their place of origin…Our people are here to stay, and we are indeed an indigenous church in North America.

A fourth problem with SCOBA, I believe, is the assumption that we are a "disapora." On the contrary: the only way to move the cause of Orthodox unity forward in North America is to insist that we are not a "disaspora." We have been here two hundred years. The late Protopresbytr, John Meyendorff, of blessed memory, states in an essay in his book A Vision of Unity that diaspora is a biblical term and has a perfectly adequate equivalent – "dispersion." He says later in the same article: "There is no promised land any more except the heavenly Jerusalem."

Most of the people in my Archdiocese have no intention of returning to their place of origin. This is true even of new immigrants, let alone those of the third or fourth generation. Our people are here to stay, and we are indeed an indigenous church in North America. I believe that the Church in North America is mature enough to take care of herself without any interference from the outside. Those who support an ethnocentric reading of Canon 28 and insist that unity on a national basis cannot be discussed, then, are naïve and bury their heads in the sand. While they may delight in holding lectures and conferences on the environment, the witness and mission of the church is ignored.

A Church Based on Nation-States, not Ethnicity

The Orthodox principle is not to organize the church based on ethnicity, but, in the modern world, upon the nation-state. Ironically enough, when ethnic ecclesiology began to flourish and prosper in the nineteenth century, it was the Pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople itself that condemned ecclesiological ethno-phyletism as a heresy in 1872. During our Archdiocese Convention last July in Montreal, Canada, I shared with my clergy and laity what I said on the subject to my brother bishops at the Archdiocesan Synod Meeting on May 31, 2007, and I summarize my thoughts in what follows.

Since 1966, I have lived with two obsessions: 1) The unity of our Archdiocese; and 2) Orthodox unity in North America. Where are we now in regard to this latter unity? Unfortunately, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America is now divided into more than fifteen jurisdictions based on ethnicity, contrary to the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. Our canons clearly state that we cannot have more than one bishop over the same territory, and one metropolitan over the same metropolis. I regret to tell you that we Orthodox are violating this important ecclesiological principle in North America, South America, Europe and Australia. In New York, for example, we have more than ten Orthodox bishops over the same city and the same territory. I can say the same thing about other cities and territories in North America.

We are not alone; the same thing has happened in Paris, France. There are six co-existing Orthodox Bishops with overlapping ecclesiological jurisdictions. In my opinion and in the opinion of Orthodox canonists, this is ecclesiological ethno-phyletism. This is heretical. How can we condemn ethno-phyletism as a heresy in 1872 and still practice the same thing in the twenty-fi rst century here in North America? When I lived in Damascus, Syria, and Beirut, Lebanon, in the early 1950s, there were large Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox communities there, but they were not under the Archbishop of Athens or the Patriarchate of Moscow, but under the omophorions of the Antiochian local bishops. Due to wars and social upheaval, we now have a large Lebanese community in Athens, Greece, and they are under the omophorion of the Archbishop of Athens. They do not have a separate jurisdiction just because they are Lebanese Orthodox.

Archimandrite Gregorios Papathomas, a professor of Canon Law and Dean of St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, France, wrote, "The defining criterion of an ecclesiastical body has been its location. It has never been nationality, race, culture, ritual or confession." In First Corinthians (1:2) St. Paul writes, "To the Church of God which is at Corinth . . . ," and again in Second Corinthians he writes, "To the Church of God which is at Corinth . . . ." He writes to the Galatians, "To the Church of Galacia . . ." (1:2). We learn from the Apostles and the Fathers that the church is one church, one and the same church, the body of Christ, found in Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, Greece, Rome, Russia, and so forth. Based on all of this, it is simply wrong to call the church Russian or Greek or American, because the church, in essence, transcends nationalism, race and culture. Here in North America we distort Orthodox ecclesiology by our ethnic jurisdictions.

The Challenge of Orthodox Unity

The twenty-first century has dawned upon us. What, then, is to be our response to the challenge of Orthodox unity in North America? SCOBA was established in 1961; some of its founders were the late Archbishop IAKOVOS and the late Metropolitan ANTONY Bashir. May their souls rest in peace. Under "Objectives" in Paragraph I, Section C, the original constitution of SCOBA, adopted January 24, 1961, states that "the purpose of the conference is the consideration and resolution of common ecclesiastical problems, the coordination of efforts in matters of common concern to Orthodoxy, and the strengthening of Orthodox unity." Last year, between October 3 and 6, SCOBA invited all canonical Orthodox Bishops to meet in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss common Orthodox problems. The communiqué issued on October 5, 2006, did not mention a word about Orthodox unity in America.

Again in November, 2006, a meeting of Inter-Orthodox priests met in Brookline, Massachusetts. A draft statement dated January 22, 2007, was circulated and not a word about Orthodox unity in North America was mentioned. I am convinced that serious attempts are being made, by some hierarchs in North America and abroad, to sweep the whole question of Orthodox unity, in this hemisphere, under the rug. After the Brookline encounter, one of my Antiochian clergy wrote to me the following: "Two of the Greek priests gave very strong talks on unity. We did decide, however, that given the landscape, we would use the word ‘cooperation’ and not ‘unity’ in our printed records." This statement, my friends, speaks for itself.

We Orthodox must put our house in order, if we want to have a serious Orthodox mission in North America.

I believe that an Ecumenical Council would be very difficult at this time. It would probably cause a division, or numerous divisions in the Church, and this would be counter-productive. After all, if an issue such as changing the calendar causes splits and division, imagine what would happen if we were to discuss more serious issues. Fortunately or unfortunately, we no longer have the Byzantine emperor to enforce decisions that such a council might make.

As an alternative, I propose the formation of an inter-Orthodox commission, located some place like Geneva, Switzerland, on which each autocephalous church and each self-ruled church would have a permanent representative. To this commission they would bring issues and problems to be discussed on behalf of the mother churches, and they would deal with specific Orthodox problems throughout the world. The decisions of the commission would be submitted to all mother churches for action.

With all the obstacles we face, have we reached a dead end? No, with the All-Holy Spirit working in the Church, there are no dead ends. I am sure that thousands of Orthodox clergy and hundreds of thousands of Orthodox laity in North America are deeply committed to Orthodox unity. We Orthodox must put our house in order, if we want to have a serious Orthodox mission in North America. This unity will begin with our clergy and laity, on the local level. My generation is slowly, but surely, fading away. It is up to you and our younger generation to carry the torch and to make the light of a unified Orthodoxy shine on this continent and everywhere.

Orthodoxy and the American Awakening

By: Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

How did Americans respond to the attack on September 11? They did not take to the streets. They did not march in demonstrations. Instead, they went to church.

Churches opened their doors expecting that a few believers might come to pray. Instead, millions turned up. A weekday service in our Greek Orthodox parishes might draw a handful of worshippers. On September 11 many Orthodox parishes were nearly full.

Orthodox Americans do what many Americans do in times of trouble. They go to church. This habit developed from ideas that shaped America’s beginnings. The Founding Fathers knew that freedom depends on individual virtue. Freedom is preserved only if Americans remained a moral people.

Morality is derived from religious faith. Church is the place where faith is nurtured and taught. Americans know that freedom depends on faith so they return to church whenever freedom is threatened.

When the nation faces a crisis, Americans respond by embracing religious faith more deeply. The crisis can be caused by threats from the outside or problems on the inside. These crises were met with movements of renewal called Great Awakenings that swept through the nation throughout its history. The movements were religious in nature and successful in healing many of the problems within, particularly when those problems required a moral solution.

The Second Great Awakening of the early and middle nineteenth century for example, emerged when America was in a period of steep moral decline. Following the Revolutionary War, the chaos of battle including the pain of separation and death, wartime inflation, the taxing effort of building a new nation among other problems, tired the nation. Greed, sensuality and family breakdown increased. Alcohol abuse became rampant with predictable social results. People quit going to church. Thomas Paine declared that Christianity was dead.

But out of this exhaustion and breakdown arose renewal. Stellar progress was made. One effort included the Temperance Movement. It worked. Within a generation alcohol consumption in America fell by two-thirds. Families became more stable. Alcohol related disease decreased.

Other efforts included the establishing of settlement houses for the homeless and aid to the massive influx of immigrants during the first great wave of European immigration. Women especially took an interest in those who found themselves financially or morally bankrupt. By 1913 more than 500 urban rescue homes were organized and run by women of faith including Protestant, Catholics, and Jews, from urban slums to small mining villages.

The greatest good to emerge during the Great Awakening was the Abolition Movement. Opposition to slavery emerged out of the Christian churches. It began in England in Wesleyan Methodism and quickly gained hold in America among people of religious faith. The freeing of the Black slave, although laborious and painful, began as the work of men and women moved by Christian conviction.

Some religious thinkers say that today we are on the verge of another Great Awakening. One sign is the shift in public recognition that many of America’s current ills and challenges are moral in nature.

For example, the moral dimension of problems like addictions, STD’s, AIDS, abortion, family breakdown, is self-evident. More people recognize that healing these maladies will require a moral reorientation that needs to reach into most corners of the culture.

In the meantime, America faces other challenges such as the direction that scientific research should take as it probes the frontiers of life and death, or the abject failure of past policies to relieve poverty and homelessness in any lasting way are also at their foundation moral issues. Clearly we are at a crossroad.

When the nation acknowledges its helplessness in the face of these problems, renewal and restoration can begin. In some areas this is already happening.

When the time of renewal arrives, Orthodox Christianity will be offered an unprecedented opportunity to give this nation the ancient faith. We need to be ready for it.

The Orthodox faith has been in America for well over two hundred years but it had no appreciable presence except for the last hundred years or so. The first immigrants brought the faith to this new land not as missionaries but as people seeking a better life. Through a deep and abiding faith in God and hard work, they established their families, neighborhoods, and parishes.

Today that immigrant faith offers the nation a depth and stability difficult to find elsewhere. Countless Americans are searching for the Orthodox faith without realizing that the Orthodox Church is where they can find it. Specifically, the Orthodox believers must prepare to teach the Gospel of Christ as it is comprehended and articulated in the Tradition. People are being prepared to hear it.

This obligation falls on the shoulders of the Orthodox because the weakness of much of the Christian establishment in America. American Christianity is fractured. Many American churches are confused about faith in God.

Some of these churches have a noble history of leading the moral life of the nation in years past. In recent decades however, they have lost confidence and direction and often are indistinguishable from the culture they one time informed. Some have abdicated leadership altogether.

One reason for their decline is that the historical dynamics that shaped this nation are similar to those that shaped those churches – particularly the Protestant confessions. The rise of modern society and the rise of Protestant Christianity happened simultaneously.

In more recent times, the foundational beliefs and values that shaped this nation faced increasing skepticism and were even attacked in places. Many of these churches applied the same skepticism to the foundational tenets of their faith and met with the same paralyzing results. Even those churches that counter the skepticism with energetic critiques are not able to offer the depth and stability of faith that the nation sorely needs.

The Orthodox in America face the same perplexing questions, the same trials, and have the same responsibilities as every other American. However, Orthodoxy can avoid the internal skepticism and paralysis that afflicts other Christian churches because it draws from a tradition that predates the rise of modern society.

 When the yearning for things that are good and right and true finds its voice is when the new Great Awakening will be upon us. It already may be here. If the Orthodox believer remains faithful to the Gospel as he received it and if he loves God and neighbor as the commandment dictates, he offers America a deep and stable faith that can lead the nation towards clarity and healing.

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse is president of the American Orthodox Institute.

Podcast: Orthodox Advocate For “Human Exceptionalism”

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

The centrality of human life in the created world is under attack on all fronts. At the very heart of the debate is whether humans have intrinsic value greater than animals, minerals and lifeless matter. Orthodox convert, lawyer, writer and “human exceptionalism” advocate Wesley J. Smith is at the vortex of this debate, and discusses the current issues that will determine whether our culture views human life as unique in the years ahead.

Listen here:

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Read Second Hand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith’s blog.

Podcast: The Culture War and Orthodox Christianity

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Hans Jacobse, editor of Orthodoxy Today and President of The American Orthodox Institute speaks with host Kevin Allen about whether Eastern Orthodox Christians need to engage in the moral and social war that is being waged in our culture. They will also talk about whether “Religious Right” leaning ex-Evangelical converts are taking over the Orthodox churches in America! Buckle your seat belts!

Listen here:

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The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow

By: Fr. John A. Peck

Fr. John Peck

Fr. John Peck

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring in Orthodox Christianity in America today, and reflected powerfully in our seminaries. Seminaries are loaded almost exclusively with converts, reverts (cradle Orthodox who left the faith, and were re-converted to it again), and the sons and grandsons of clergy.

I believe we are looking at the future of the American Orthodox Church — today.

The notion that traditionally Orthodox ethnic groups (the group of ‘our people’ we hear so much about from our primates and hierarchs) are going to populate the ranks of the clergy, and therefore, the Church in the future is, frankly, a pipe dream. Orthodoxy, despite the failings of its leadership, has actually lived up to its own press. The truth of the Orthodox faith, as presented on paper, is actually being believed – by those who have no familial or historical connection with the Orthodox. These poor deluded souls (of which I count myself) actually believe what they are reading about the Orthodox faith, and expect the Church to act like, well, the Church. They refuse to accept the Church as a club of any kind, or closed circle kaffeeklatsch. No old world embassies will be tolerated for much longer – they will go the way of the dodo. No one will have to work against them; they will simply die from atrophy and neglect. The passing away of the Orthodox Church as ethnic club is already taking place. It will come to fruition in a short 10 years, 15 years in larger parishes.

This is a well known problem. Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable. If nothing was done within five years (that’s two years ago) the decline would be irreversible. Demographics determine destiny, as they say. As you may have imagined, not only was "nothing done," such reports were surreptitiously filed away, while the calls for a solution from clergy and laity alike only increased. Larger jurisdictions will, of course, have a little more time, but not a different result.

What we are looking at, of course, is of the highest concern to the hierarchy. They know, in their heart of hearts, that they cannot reverse this trend. Yet they fight a rearguard action, hoping against hope to forestall the historically inevitable movement toward an American Orthodox Church.

Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable.

The laity has already moved on. Americans, generally, don’t fall for very much strong arm intimidation or brow beating, don’t go for bullying by insecure leaders, and certainly don’t see the value of taking on and promoting someone else’s ethnic culture. They care about the Gospel, and the Gospel does not require Slavonic or Koine Greek, or even English for that matter. The Gospel requires context, which is why it cannot be transmitted in any language unknown to the listener.

When we look at our seminaries, we are looking at the Church of Tomorrow, the Church twenty years from now. Indeed, this is the Church we are building today.

Twenty years from now, I anticipate we will see the following:

  • Vastly diminished parishes, both in size and number. There will be a few exceptions, (and they will be exceptional!) but for the most part, most current Orthodox parishioners will age and die, and have no one to replace them. Why? Because as they have taught the context of their culture, instead teaching the context of their faith. Some parishes will simply be merged with others. Many will close outright. A few will change how they do ministry, with a new vision of parochial ecclesiology. These newer parishes will be lighthouses of genuine Orthodox piety and experience. Some parishes, I believe, will actually be formed specifically, in the old fashion, by purchasing land, building a chapel or Temple in the midst of it, and parishioners building or buying homes around it. The Church will be the center of their lives, and many will come from far and wide to experience their way of life.
  • Publicly renowned Orthodox media and apologetic ministries. These ministries are the ones providing a living and powerful apologetic for the Orthodox faith in our culture (that is, our 21st Century life in the United States), and actually providing the Gospel in its proper context – engaged in society and the public arena. These will succeed in visibility and public awareness more than all the speeches before the U.N. and odd newspaper stories about Orthodox Easter or Folk Dance Festivals could ever do. In other words, the Orthodox Christian faith will become that most dangerous of all things – relevant to the lives of Americans, and known to all Americans as a genuinely American Christian entity.
  • More (and younger) bishops. If our current slate of bishops has been mostly a disappointment, reducing their number will only tighten this closed circle, making the hierarchy less and less accessible, and more and more immune to things like, oh, the needs and concerns of their flock. The process of selection for the episcopacy will contain a far more thorough investigation, and men with active homosexual tendencies, psychological problems, insecurities, or addictions will simply not make the cut. We aren’t far from open persecution of Christians by secularists in this country, and we need bishops who know the score. With better bishops, no one will be able to ‘buy’ a priest out of a parish with a gift of cash. Conversely, parish councils will no longer be able to bully priests into staying out of their affairs, and will be required to get out of the restaurant/festival business and get into the soul saving business.
  • A very different demographic of clergy. Our priests will be composed of converts, reverts, and the sons and grandsons of venerable, long-suffering clergy. These men all know the score. They won’t tolerate nonsense like homosexual clergy (especially bishops), women’s ordination, or financial corruption. They will not tolerate the Church being regularly and unapologetically dishonored by her own clergy. Twenty years from now, these convert and revert priests will be sending life-long Orthodox men, a new cradle generation, en masse to our seminaries. They will be white, black, Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, and everything in between. Fewer will be Russian, Greek, or any other traditionally Orthodox background.
  • Orthodox Biblical Studies. Orthodox Biblical scholarship will flourish, and will actually advance Biblical Studies, rather than tag along for the latest trends, staying a minimum safe distance back in case the latest theory tanks unexpectedly. Septuagint studies are already on the rise and Orthodox scholars will usurp the lead in this arena, establishing a powerful and lasting influence in Biblical Studies for decades to come. Orthodox higher education — specifically in Biblical Studies in the Orthodox tradition — will finally have a place at the doctoral level in the Western hemisphere, and it will become a thriving academic entity. The whole Church will feed on the gleanings of this new scholarship and Scriptural knowledge, preaching, and Biblical morality will invigorate the Church for generations.
  • A much higher moral standard from all clergy. The next twenty years will see a revival of practical ethics. Instead of trailing military or business ethics, the Church will, once again, require the highest standard of ethical and professional behavior from her clergy — and they will respond! The clergy will not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing and hold to account those who practice these vices. They will vigorously defend the honor of Christ’s priesthood, and Christ’s Church. I dare say, even the clergy will finally respect their own priesthood.
  • Vocations will explode. As a result of the elevated ethical standard publicly expected from the clergy, candidates in far greater numbers will flock to the priesthood. There will be very full classes, distance education, self-study and continuing education going on in every location. Education at a basal level will disappear, except in introductory parish classes. Clergy will powerfully articulate Orthodoxy to the faithful and to the culture around them. Personal opinion will no longer be the standard for clergy when articulating Orthodox ethics and morality. Our seminaries must become beacons for this teaching, and give up "training culture" once and for all. We will finally begin to penetrate our society, rather than go along for the ride like a tick on a dog’s back.
  • Philanthropy will flow like the floodgates of heaven. Finally, the many Orthodox Christian philanthropists who annually give millions of dollars to secular institutions will finally find their own Church completely transparent, completely accountable, and worthy of their faith-building support. Let’s face it, there is more than enough money in Orthodoxy right now to build hospitals, clinics, schools, colleges, universities, and a new Hagia Sophia right here in the United States. The reason this is not being done is because these philanthropists are intelligent men and women who do not trust the hierarchy to do the right thing with their millions. This will change in short order once it is shown that transparency doesn’t destroy the Church, but strengthens it immeasurably. Frankly, I don’t anticipate every jurisdiction to do this in the next twenty years, but those that are practicing transparency will emerge as the leaders in every arena of Church existence.

Hope

This all may seem unlikely today, but it is coming.

How do I know this? For one thing, the last holdouts of corruption, Byzantine intrigue and phyletism (a fancy theological term for ethnic preference) are clinging desperately to a vision of the Church that is, quite frankly, dying fast. Oh, they are doing everything to shore up their power and influence, and busy serving their own needs, but their vision is dying. And where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

As frightening and disconcerting as it may seem to our leaders, they will learn that emerging from a cocoon, even a Byzantine cocoon, is not a bad thing. Orthodoxy is about to take flight on new beautiful wings. These are the birth pangs of a new era for Orthodoxy. God is giving us a time of freedom and light.

This new Orthodox Church will have a different face, will be ready for contemporary challenges, and will have begun to penetrate American society at every stage and on every level. This Church is the one that will be ready for the challenges of open persecution, fighting for the soul of every American, regardless of their genetic affiliation. This Church will be the one our grandchildren and great grandchildren will grow up in, looking back on the late 20th-early 21st century as a time of sentimental darkness from which burst forth the light of the Gospel. Let it begin.

Fr. John A. Peck is pastor of Prescott Orthodox Church in Prescott, Ariz.

Published: September 16, 2008

Interview with Bobby Maddex, Editor of "Salvo" magazine

By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Salvo Magazine

Salvo Magazine

"Salvo" describes itself as a magazine committed to "deconstructing the damaging cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded the appetite for transcendence." Editor Bobby Maddex says "Salvo" aims for the type of reader that is "open-minded enough to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and invariably, it leads to Christ and his teachings." Maddex spoke recently with Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute.

AOI: Welcome, Bobby. Good to have you especially as we inaugurate our interview series on Orthodox leaders who make a difference.

Maddex: Thank you. Good to be here.

AOI: The magazine has a youthful vibe. Describe the typical Salvo reader.

Maddex: Our typical reader is between the ages of 21 and 40, college educated, and at least somewhat religious. I would venture to say that our subscription base is split pretty evenly between Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians, though we also have a number of secular subscribers due to the fact that we are not an overtly religious publication.

Bobby Maddex, Editor of Salvo

Bobby Maddex, Editor of Salvo

We believe that changes of mind will result in changes of heart further on down the road. In other words, we attempt to cultivate clear thinking about some of the more controversial cultural topics of the day in order to pave the way for the evangelical efforts of others. In terms of our Christian readers, this means that we are trying to prevent them from acceding to the false ideologies and cultural myths circulating throughout society, while we offer our secular readers perspectives on topics that they are not getting from the mainstream media.

Our "vibe," as you call it, was selected to counter the lies emanating from some of the hipper, youth-oriented, and hugely popular newsstand magazines-such as Rolling Stone and Wired. We were tired of the monopoly that these publications had on slick, edgy, and highly ironic content, especially since the worldviews that inhere in such content are so nihilistic, materialistic, and immoral. We are trying to fight fire with fire, using the rhetorical and design tactics of our competition, but in the service of Truth and right living rather than narcissism and a do-what-feels-good behavioral ethic.

AOI: Clearly, you draw from the received moral tradition, particularly when you challenge the secular trends. We don’t see enough of this responsibly done. Why take this approach?

Maddex: Here’s the thing-and it’s something that both our Christian and secular readers are coming to recognize: The Christian worldview, objectively speaking, leads to the healthiest, most satisfying, and most rewarding way of life. Even if one never buys into the underlying theology of Christianity, he will still find that the moral precepts that result from it are entirely practical and psychologically beneficial. Countless scientific studies have show this to be true, and we at Salvo surmise that the reason this is so is because Christianity represents total truth about all of reality. Our readers are young adults who are open-minded enough to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and invariably, it leads to Christ and his teachings.

The problem today is that some Christians, in an effort to engage the culture (which St. Paul definitely encourages us to do), have instead allowed the culture to engage them. Longstanding moral principles-and in some cases, orthodox (small "o") Christian theology-are being abandoned in the name of attracting converts, especially in the areas of sexuality and bioethics. But what such Christians are really doing is depleting the fullness of the faith, which includes bold moral lines that simply should not be crossed. The fear, I think, especially in American culture, is that by calling attention to such lines, we will offend the sensibilities of the secular world. But the cross has already done that; it is an offense in and of itself.

Some Christians, in an effort to engage the culture (which St. Paul definitely encourages us to do), have instead allowed the culture to engage them.

Christianity is antithetical to the culture. Our devotion to it makes us offensive from the get-go. In other words, you know something is wrong when your values no longer offend; it most likely means that you are becoming a part of-and not merely engaging-secular society. And as I said earlier, we have a moral obligation to help keep others from caving in to the culture’s value system, because it will likewise prevent them from making choices that have the propensity to deteriorate their mental, physical, and spiritual health.

AOI: What kind of response are you getting from readers?

Maddex: Most of the responses have been very encouraging. Sure, there are a few who have objected to the in-your-face style of Salvo, as well as to our unyielding opposition to such things as abortion and homosexuality. The charge is that we are not following Christ’s example of love and acceptance when we reject such lifestyle decisions out of hand-that these issues are fraught with complexities that demand a softer touch. But how loving is it, really, to allow sinful behaviors to become culturally destigmatized? We’re talking human souls here; to not call a spade a spade is to make sin a more attractive and enticing option that could obstruct one’s path to salvation. Besides, the Christ of the bible is no hippie-dippy love child. He turned the tables in the temple, responded to some of the disciples’ dumber questions with irony and sarcasm, and suffered death for his commitment to Truth. Yes, I definitely believe that we are called to love the sinner, but sometimes the most loving thing to do for a person is to slap him in the face. I know it has helped me on countless occasions.

Salvo attempts to cultivate clear thinking about some of the more controversial cultural topics of the day in order to pave the way for the evangelical efforts of others.

But again, most of what we hear is that Salvo has helped readers change and improve their lives. Those who are Christian typically tell us that, before reading the magazine, they didn’t know why they held the beliefs that they did. I mean, they knew that they were following the teachings of scripture and church tradition, but they didn’t know that these beliefs had a practical dimension as well-that their beliefs were rooted in logic and common sense, as well as the bible and the church fathers. Secular readers, on the other hand, usually say that Salvo has provided them with food for thought on topics that they had never before considered. For example, I can recall one reader who told us that he came to terms with his pornography addiction as the result of an article we ran on the subject in Salvo 2. Such responses keep me energized and focused.

AOI: What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the culture?

Maddex: I would have to say those issues that revolve around human dignity. You know, even the very notion of human dignity has fallen under attack in recent years. Scientists such as Patricia Churchland, Ruth Macklin, and Steven Pinker have argued that it is a useless concept in light of evolutionary findings. According to them, humans have no more value or worth than any other creature on earth. Spain has granted personhood to apes under the same logic, and the Swiss now have laws that protect the "dignity" of plants. We are no longer viewed as having a privileged place in the world; nor are we treating human beings as if they were made in the image of God.

This loss of human dignity is what fuels our culture of death.

This loss of human dignity is what fuels our culture of death. At the same time that the lives of an increasing number of non-human organisms are being protected, laws that protect human life are on the decline. Abortion has become a common component of our culture, the death-tourism trade (in which people travel to foreign countries in order to undergo assisted suicide) is on the rise, and scientific procedures such as cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization are part of a booming business that takes life to make life. Regardless of whether you believe that the Genesis story is actual history or mere metaphor, its point-that we are special to God-remains. God took on the flesh of man so that man might be saved. To reject human dignity is thus to reject God’s salvific plan.

AOI: Coming up with new material for a quarterly means you have to stay up on cultural trends and the latest ideas. What are some of your favorite online and print influences? Television and film?

Maddex: Just in terms of overall style and structure, Wired magazine has influenced me tremendously. It’s so well done-so appealing and fascinating and easy to read. Everything from the paper quality to the images to the names of the departments is incredibly well-conceived and well-suited to the magazine’s mission and content. Of course, the naturalistic worldview of Wired leaves much to be desired, but as far as the magazine genre goes, I think it most perfectly utilizes the form.

I’m also a big fan of The New Atlantis, a science and technology journal that is always extremely insightful and well-written, particularly those articles composed by Senior Editor Christine Rosen. I learn a ton every time I pick it up.

In terms of online resources, you can’t beat LifeSiteNews.com. I believe it’s run by Canadian Catholics, but it is global in content and includes links to any news story even marginally related to the family. I also love MercatorNet, the Australian equivalent of Salvo, which is hip, witty, and excellently edited, and the website for Stand To Reason, Greg Koukl’s Christian apologetics organization.

And then there’s the journalist Dinesh D’Souza, who just recently joined our editorial advisory board. In a lot of ways, he functions as a sort of patron saint of Salvo, providing razor-sharp insights into American culture. His two most recent books, The Enemy at Home and What’s So Great About Christianity, perfectly model what Salvo is trying to do, as does Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth.

For entertainment reviews and news, I go directly to Barbara Nicolosi, the Hollywood screenwriter and executive director of Act One, Inc. Her blogsite, Church of the Masses, contains some of the most erudite and morally solid assessments of film and television available. And I also love Ben Stein and Evan Coyne Maloney. These guys made two of the most thought-provoking documentaries of the past year. Stein’s film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, exposes the manner in which the scientific community blackballs anyone who dares question even a mere aspect of evolutionary theory, and Maloney’s film, Indoctrinate U, examines the socially liberal bias on American college campuses.

AOI: Your Christian background is Orthodox but Salvo has an appeal that reaches far beyond Orthodox walls. How do you see the other Christian communions contributing to Salvo?

Maddex: I think my list of influences definitely speaks to this question. There’s a culture war going on right now between naturalists and supernaturalists-between those who believe that the material universe is all that there is and those who believe that there is a transcendent reality to which we are subject. If the naturalists win, then our culture will finally and fully become nihilistic, permeated with moral relativism and a complete lack of meaning. All Christians, regardless of denomination, must be involved in this particular battle. It’s one in which we all have a vested interest, and-thankfully-one in which many Christians have already put aside their differences to fight side by side.

I completely understand that there are huge theological issues separating each of the three great traditions of Christendom-Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox-and having converted to Orthodoxy, I definitely took a side here as well. But the culture war is a battle that we can all fight together without compromising on any of our differences. The worst thing we could do is refuse to work together on matters upon which we all agree because of those issues upon which we don’t. That’s the surest path to defeat. Fortunately, Salvo has been blessed with individuals who understand what’s at stake and have formed provisional alliances as a result.

AOI: Your subheading for the journal is "Science, Sex, and Society." Why did you pick these three themes?

Maddex: Well, that pretty much covers everything that we mean by the word "culture," right? Under the category of "sex," for example, Salvo looks at such things as in vitro fertilization, alternative sexualities, gender theory, contraception, and pornography. In science, we are looking at the theory of Intelligent Design, Darwinism, the origins of life, and bioethics. And under society, we are looking at the influence of the media and the academy, at consumerism and family makeup, at art, music, film, literature, and anything else that might impact the worldview of young adults. There is not an aspect of culture that Salvo does not address, and we felt that the tagline "science, sex, and society" encompasses them all.

What many Christians lack these days is the ability to think critically about highly persuasive messages and ways of being that have the potential to negatively impact their lives.

AOI: Where is Salvo heading?

Maddex: That’s a really good question. I’ve never thought of Salvo as merely a magazine; rather, I’ve always viewed it as a movement-as the beginning of a mass resistance to dominant cultural myths that is not dependent on any one medium. I would love to see us grow and thrive to the point where we host film screenings, discussion groups, and media-literacy conferences-where we organize protests, create home-school curricula, and bring speakers to college campuses. I want Salvo to become a multi-media assault on all of the destructive lies emanating from Hollywood, the academy, legacy news outlets, and the Darwinist science community.

In the meantime, we’ll keep pumping out magazines. We just went to print with an issue on what Dr. Allan Carlson calls "the natural family," and our next issue tackles the New Atheists. Beyond that, I would love to do an issue on "environmentalism versus stewardship," or one on "psychology as religion," though we will most likely stop doing thematic issues after Salvo 7. The problem has been that each reader has his own pet topics that he wants to read about, and when an issue focuses on a single topic, we lose the interest of readers who are geared toward something else. Thus, beginning with Salvo 8, we will probably fill each quarterly issue with a full range of articles that fall within our mission. We’ll still have a cover story, obviously, but the rest of the magazine will concentrate on other things. I think it’s a smart move that will make Salvo more appealing to a wider group of readers. I’m excited about it.

AOI: You mention that Salvo seeks the "systematic deconstruction of false ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews." What do you mean by this? Why is it important?

Maddex: What many Christians lack these days is the ability to think critically about highly persuasive messages and ways of being that have the potential to negatively impact their lives. To some degree, Salvo is trying to teach our readers to think-to provide examples of clear thinking about the pressing issues of the day in an intellectual, though very readable, format.

Let me give you an example. Slated for Salvo 7 is an article by Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, that counters the accusations of such New Atheists as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris. In it, she describes a private meeting that she had with two students who had begun to question their Christian faith. The reason? For the first time in their lives, they had been confronted-via the bestselling books of these New Atheist authors-with serious (in their minds at least) arguments against the existence of God. What Prior goes on to point out is that these students simply weren’t trained by their Christian parents, churches, and schools to understand that such arguments exist. They were thus unaware that there is likewise a whole host of solid counter-arguments that sufficiently answer the New Atheist claims. As a result, these kids were severing their relationship with Christ.

Salvo was created to prevent this sort of thing from happening. We are trying to reach young adults before their worldviews have solidified-while they are still searching for answers to the significant questions of life. It is so important that they have access to all of the information before settling into their habits of mind. Again, we are talking about the salvation of souls here, and a false assumption formed early in life is all that it might take to send someone careening into an eternity of meaninglessness and despair.

AOI: Where can we find Salvo?

Maddex: The magazine is becoming available at an increasing number of Barnes & Noble booksellers. We have a list of the stores that currently carry Salvo at http://salvomag.typepad.com/blog/2008/06/salvo-5-on-news.html.

But you can also, of course, order a subscription to our magazine on our website at http://www.salvomag.com/new/subservices.php. We also sell back issues here, and there is a ton of free content as well, including a daily blog, daily news items, podcasts, a suggested reading list, and Ism Central, our guide to every ideology under the sun. Please feel free to drop by.

Bobby Maddex graduated from Wheaton College in 1994 with a degree in Political Science. After spending five years as senior editor of "Gadfly," a national arts and culture publication out of Charlottesville, Virginia, and serving a one-year stint as the marketing director of "Touchstone" magazine in Chicago, he earned a Masters Degree in British Literature from DePaul University in 2002. Bobby is now the editor of "Salvo," a magazine committed to deconstructing the damaging cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded the appetite for transcendence.

Announcing a new website for the Clarion Review!

The Clarion Review, a journal examining contemporary culture through prose and poetry, and published by AOI, just launched their new website. Now you can enjoy Clarion in print and on the web. Clarion offers lively content, incisive commentary, and features essays by established and new authors, including:

Roger Scruton, philosopher & farmer, tells us in Turning Cows into Ideas how to make farms profitable even if no one buys a thing.

Peter Augustine Lawler, ethicist and critic, writes about how caring for the old competes with our work-a-day society’s love of freedom and laboring in Aging, Individualism, and Our Middle-Class Dreams.

Nota Bene — Other articles of interest:

Vigen Guroian on Flannery O’Connor’s Iconographic Fiction and Christian humanism.
Stephen Gatlin deciphers Francis Collins’ chatter about God.
T.L. Reed’s short story "Weight on Lilies" depicts aging and things left undone.
Bart Fleuren finds the endangered species Homo Economus Christianus in some Third Ways.
Adrienne Su’s poem "Fear of Flying" reminds us of what we know we know.
Read the announcement of Clarion’s Web launch on Christian Newswire.

A New Voice for Orthodox Christianity in America

The mission of the American Orthodox Institute is to bring the witness of the Orthodox Christian moral tradition into greater prominence in the American “public square.”

Founded in 2005, AOI is the first independent civil society institution or “think tank” to promote the views, achievements and aspirations of Orthodox Christians in the United States. AOI believes that Orthodox Christianity, and the sorely needed moral witness it provides to a pluralistic and secular society, can no longer be content with its “best kept secret” status.

AOI works in these ways to accomplish its mission:

  • Raise the voices of Orthodox Christians to greater prominence on important political, social and cultural issues.
  • Deepen the appreciation among American public for the contribution that the Orthodox Christian moral tradition makes to society.
  • Create a bridge between Orthodox Christians in America and the institutions and individuals in traditionally Orthodox cultures around the world who share AOI’s mission.
  • Reach out to Christians of other traditions, and those people of non-Christian faiths, on social and moral issues where common cause may be made.

AOI is non-profit and non-partisan, and supported by those who share the AOI mission and the ancient Christian faith that has spread, by the providence of God, from the Aleutian Islands to the Florida Keys.

In places where the Church has taken root, it has incorporated the best characteristics of the local culture. Orthodox teaching holds that what ever good exists in a local culture must be nurtured and strengthened.

Orthodox Christianity is a living and active faith. It is a unity of faith and works, which is true evangelism. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14).

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The American Orthodox Insitute

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse


Learn about this new and important resource designed to address social and moral concerns in our society from an Orthodox perspective. We talk with Fr. Hans Jacobse about the newly established American Orthodox Institute.

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